Monday, August 31, 2009

Moving Out of the Nineteenth Century

SwingDaddy was reading an article about d3o, a shock-absorbing compound that’s being used in all sorts of athletic equipment, and it listed motorcycle racing suits, shin guards, knee pads, biking gloves, . . . and ballet slippers.

Ballet pointe shoes have been constructed the same, old-fashioned way for decades, even centuries, with layers of paper and paste, covered by pink satin. It was about time that a cool new material came into play!

Apparently, the benefit of the d3o material is that it’s flexible, yet protective when it takes an impact, making it ideal to slip inside a pointe shoe. This video of the Capulet ballet shoe shows a dancer in action, and this video shows the making of the shoe, starting at 4:02.

The Royal Ballet dancer who is interviewed says that she usually makes all sorts of alterations to her new shoes to make them more wearable- cutting the leather, removing bits, even closing a door repeatedly on the hard toe box to soften it. She says that she will have to try the new shoes more, but so far they seem to be more comfortable, less noisy, last longer, and cushion the landing on jumps better.

I don’t dance en pointe, so I won’t be able to judge for myself, but I look forward to seeing more of these new materials in other sports and safety gear.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How To Spend a Summer Day

Making blueberry-apple-banana smoothies.


Drinking blueberry-apple-banana smoothies.


Playing “I’m going to get you!” and running in circles around the house screaming, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”


Note how we’ve made progress on evacuating books from the bottom shelves, out of Buster’s increasingly ambitious range.

By the way, we don’t usually dress in such a color coordinated manner. SwingDaddy and I didn’t see each other get dressed (alternating naps), Q-ster dressed himself, and Nanny J had dressed Buster the night before. It does make for a nicely green-and-blue picture though!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Return of Grand Mal Seizure Elmo

A couple of Christmases ago, Q-ster had a traumatic first encounter with a Tickle Me Elmo (see pictorial rendition of story here), so I was somewhat skeptical when my sister asked me to unearth the toy for her visit with cousin Remy last weekend. I was prepared for Buster and Remy to have the same teary reaction to Elmo’s thrashing and convulsing.

I shouldn’t have worried.


Buster instinctively knew that the proper handle for Elmo is his eyeballs and was perfectly content to watch the tickle-seizure. After all, this is a younger brother who is accustomed to having his older brother jump at him yelling, “AHHHHHHHHHH!” on a regular basis. Remy was similarly unphased, and the whole party went merrily on its tickley way.


*Title courtesy of Dooce.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hollywood Heroes in Projects I Will Probably Never See

James Bond and Wolverine! Their gig, Steady Rain, is on Broadway, so I won't have an opportunity to heckle Daniel Craig's mustache or sigh over Hugh Jackman on stage again.

Two of my all time Hollywood crushes, Hugh Jackman (again) and Ewan McGregor, were even in the same movie last year, though sadly neither of them sings in it.

More movie stars: I was trying to decide whether or not to link to the Actor Believability Matrix, because it treats the actresses so poorly (not one single "completely legit" or "convincing enough" rating for the women), but that is partially due to the categories (firefighter, astronaut, quarterback, etc) not favoring females. In the end, I really can't quibble with Denise Richards getting a flunk-out as a nuclear scientist.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just the Perfect Size

Like many an organizationally-obsessed mom, I have a series of boxes on shelves in the garage labeled 6-9 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2T and so forth. Over the weekend, I went “shopping” at home and unearthed the box of Q-ster’s old 18 month clothes. A whole set of cute duds for his little brother!

I can’t believe the good condition of the clothes. The infant outfits looked much more worn due to the high frequency of washing (multiple changes of clothes per day for various baby leaks). The age 2’s and 3’s are a bit shabby because the kids stop growing so fast and can wear the same size for a whole year.

I guess 18 months is the perfect age for hand-me-downs – the age of a slightly less messy child who is still outgrowing clothes quickly.

In any case, 16 month old Buster looks spiffy and so mature in his new, bigger outfits.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Non Sequitur Theatre

As my doctor looked over my records during my annual physical, she commented that out of the two to three thousand patients she sees each year, I am only the second adult in her thirties with a complete inoculation record. She told me to compliment my mother on her record keeping.

We were also helped by my only having two doctors from the time I was born to when I was twenty-two and heading off to the work world. I brought my vaccination card, complete with clown stickers, straight from the pediatrician’s office to my grown-up medical office, where the nurses were quite amused by the decoration.

~
I was pregnant with Buster when we moved into this house, so I left the two bottom bookshelves empty in every room, knowing it was just a matter of time before a small person would be investigating the tastiness of books. Well, the micro dude can now reach THREE shelves, which means we’re evacuating things upwards.

~
Our university alumni association sent postcards for us to call a number and update our contact information for the annual directory. I thought this odd, since they have our information online. It seems like checking a web form would be more efficient, for at least the younger alumni.

I called the number, confirmed that my data was still current, and the agent tried to sell me the directory. No thank you, I replied. Why would I want a paper directory that will just take up space and be obsolete before it’s even printed? The agent jumped in and offered the CD-ROM. Less bulky, but again, obsolete immediately. For information that I may or may not need, I’d rather access an online directory, thanks.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Redcoats are Coming

Because I’ve been looking through old dance photos instead of writing my post, I will instead share an exciting shopping find from the clearance rack. Less than 40% of the original price! I may not ever work my way to Mir’s skill level at bargains, but it’s a good start.

SwingDaddy says it makes me look like a comic book hero. I think we all need a little of that in our lives. I look forward to sweeping into meetings and making them more interesting in my dashing red coat.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

No, no. Not iPods and iPhones – we’re talking figurative fruit here.

The problem with watching favorite movies with a preschooler is needing to skip the scary parts. We’re glad that Q-ster tells us “skip, skip!” when a scene comes up, because it making the viewing more peaceful and avoids nightmares.

It is, however, occasionally frustrating to never see certain parts of a movie. We’ve watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, approximately four thousand times, but not the undersea monster attacks. Last year, we watched Pixar’s Cars about three thousand times, but never the frightening tractor tipping scene.

At some point, I want to stage a scary-parts-only TV night of the movies that we watch all the time. This kind of thinking results in tonight, when SwingDaddy and I actually spent two hours of our child-free time, after the boys were in bed, watching a Star Wars movie, like we don’t get enough of that during the day.

To explain, it was Revenge of the Sith, which is pretty much filled with stuff the little dude can’t watch, and we wanted to see it. I guess there really isn’t any excuse besides the fact that we were geeks in the first place.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Your Mark

Q-ster was pretending to race around the living room, so I taught him the positions for “On your mark, get set, go!” He begged me to call it over and over, which I was happy to do, because he spent a good forty-five minutes running and running.

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who had thought wickedly that teaching a new concept dovetailed nicely with making sure a preschooler got a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Red Things

Three red things only related by my wandering mind. Warning: high exclamation point factor.

The Vivienne Tam netbook. So pretty! After much thought, I decided that even a generic netbook isn’t really necessary because I almost always need to carry my work laptop with me anyways.

I put this Red Carpet fashions book on my wishlist a few years ago, and it looks like it’s gone out of print – but I can get a used copy for $2.98! I think I’ll save it for a consolation prize on a tough day.

I’m almost out of Lady M business cards and was thinking about getting in touch with Secret Agent Josephine for a reprint. I came across her etsy store and look at the first item – a cute octopus!

Monday, August 17, 2009

So Says Sharpie

We’ve just returned from the lovely wedding of our Surfer friends (theirs was the Logistically Challenging one), and I’m not quite ready to recount the tale of rental cars, planes, ferries, rowboat, and pleasant breezy walks, so I will instead direct you to my Silicon Valley Moms Blog post, Tattoos for the Pre-K Set, which discusses how one tags children to help them not get hopelessly lost at the beach or county fair.

I made what I thought was a joke – to write my cell phone number on the child’s body with a Sharpie permanent marker – and promptly received a few comments that Sharpies were the perfect solution! Fearing ink poisoning for some poor blogger’s kids, I dutifully went to the Sharpie website to find whatever warnings they might have so that I could pass them along . . . and I found that they claim a “certified non-toxic formula” for the ink.

So I guess, sure. I’m not planning to write on the boys anytime soon, but there doesn’t seem to be a reason why you can’t.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who Is the Enabler in This Relationship?

Mama scores big at Kohl's.

For my Star Wars and Rock Band-loving husband:


For my Star Wars and Lego-loving older son: PJs that haven’t been treated with chemical flame retardant!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This One Goes To Eleven










11th Wedding Anniversary Gifts

Traditional: Steel
Modern: Guitar Amplifier

Happy 11th, Sweetie. I love you more every year!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mad Adventuring Skillz

As promised, I made Q-ster an Indiana Jones shoulder bag over the weekend. We cut some army green fabric, found an old leather belt at a thrift store, and put it together. It came out pretty well for an hour’s work, but I saved enough fabric to do it properly (with side gussets, sturdy loops for the strap, and actual measuring instead of eyeballing), if he stays interested in costume.

The little dude wouldn’t stay still for photos, but here he is astride the terrific rocking horse hand-made by Lady O’s stepdad-in-law for cousin Remy. You can't actually see the bag, but the shoulder strap is in view.

Now he’s pretending to be dragged behind a truck carrying the Lost Ark of the Covenant. You can see the bag on the right. For a kid who has never actually seen the movies (because they’re not age-appropriate), he sure knows a lot of Indy-lore.

Even the micro dude has started doot-doot-doot-doo-ing the theme song when I pull up a webpage with Indiana Jones logos. Well, as far as heroes goes, he’s a good one – an intellectual and professor with a moral center who rocks an adventure with excellent practical skills. It’s how I think of SwingDaddy, really.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baby Rock Star

The micro dude rocks out.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This is What Happens When a Bunch of Engineering PhDs have a Bachelor Party

After a few bachelor-party free years, SwingDaddy had back-to-back weekends of pre-wedding festivities. Indoor skydiving. Skeet shooting. Surfing. Barbeque on the beach. Pub crawling. The works. (All this made me feel less guilty about leaving him with the boys when I went to BlogHer the following weekend!)

For the most part, all the participants have had years and years of training in rigorous mathematical analysis, and that resulted in some amusing correspondence.

Hey Guys,

Thanks for a blast this weekend at (the groom’s) bachelor party! I'd like to sort out the finances of who owes what to whom using just this one email exchange. I need answers to the questions below (please look carefully).

Cheers,
the organizer
(we’ll call him Adam)

1) Members of the group were (minus the groom, since he won't be paying for anything):
Adam, Brad, Cormac, David, Eric, Flavio, Gerry (and so on).

2) Brad paid $562.28 for indoor skydiving. I have the participants as: Adam, Brad, Cormac, Flavio, Gerry, Hayden, Ian, Jacob

3) Cormac paid $178.00 for BBQ. I have the participants as: (list of names)

4) Who paid for surfing lesson and what was the amount? I have the participants as: (list of names)

5) Who paid for lunch at the beach, and what was the amount? I have the participants as: (list of names)

6) Who paid for drinks at Red (first bar) . . .

7) Who paid for drinks at Blue Lagoon (second bar) . . .

8) Who paid for drinks at place with tequila shots (third bar) . . .


And the list went on . . . sounding more than ever like a word problem from a math test.

A few days later, there was a follow-up.

Guys,

Thanks for getting back to me quickly on expenditures for (the Groom's) bachelor weekend. I have already mailed checks to those who are owed money. To see how much the rest of you owe me, please see below.

Let me know if you need a further breakdown of your expenditures. See you at the wedding!

Cheers,
Adam

RESULTS:
Brad: Adam has mailed you a check for $365
Cormac: Adam has mailed you a check for $695

David: Mail Adam a check for $207
Eric: Mail Adam a check for $93
Flavio: Mail Adam a check for $44
Gerry: Mail Adam a check for $177
(and so forth)

*Note: SUM[people who are OWED $] = SUM[people who OWE $]


And I believe a good time was had by all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

LBS (Little Black Shoe)

On the average week, I wear these shoes to work two days, say Monday and Wednesday:
And these on Tuesday and Thursday.

Fridays are a bit more casual, so I wear these.


Sometimes, I mix it up. One week, there was a team picnic on a Thursday, so I wore the sneakers that day, and the nicer shoes for a presentation Friday. Woo-hoo.

What I’m saying is that I have pretty nondescript shoes for work. I have pink suede tango shoes, red satin ballet slippers, polka-dotted pumps, dance shoes in every color and height of heel, but for work, shoes only have the purpose of not reminding me that they are uncomfortable.

I had hit a pretty satisfactory milestone at the office a week ago, so I though I’d treat myself to some new shoes. Nothing crazy, but maybe something a little more fun. (Yes, this was the aforementioned Nordstrom Anniversary Shoe Sale, where Buster was perfectly behaved and oddly mesmerized by a display of Ugg boots.)

I found the perfect pair! Quirky, playful, and not sacrificing comfort.

And sadly, unavailable in my size in the store, any other Nordstrom, on Zappos, Amazon.com, or any online shoe store I’ve been able to find. I consoled myself with a Lady Gaga song from iTunes, but it just wasn’t the same.

P.S. Thanks for all the curiosity about my hair! The reason that I didn't post a picture is that it's quite difficult to photograph black hair. (Asian-American, not African-American). My hair has almost no variation in color, so it takes a really well lit image to show the cut. When Michelle Yeoh was cast as a kick-ass Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, they highlighted her hair with blue tones, so that you could see the movement and shape of her hair.

Contrast this with our dancer friend Pink Gal (here in mid-jump), who could do shampoo and conditioner commercials with her gorgeous mane of naturally streaky blonde.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Light-Headed, Mostly On Purpose

I had an appointment on Friday with my fearsomely hip hair stylist, and since I have not performance obligations where I need to approximate vintage hairstyles, I let him cut as he pleased. I’ve always been happy with the results, even when they are far shorter than I would ever have requested.

Right now, I kind of look like Kherington from SYTYCD Season 4, but I’ll get used to it, and my hair grows fast, anyway. Q-ster noticed the cut right away. “I like your hair, mommy! It’s boys hair!”

When I went to hug Buster, he skittered from me and ran to Nanny J. It was time for her to go home, so I went to get his blankie, thinking it would comfort him, and grabbed a hat while I was at it. The micro dude greeted with enthusiasm when I wore the hat, so I kept it on until he was sure I was me.

Later that evening, I tried and completely failed to get a photo of the boys in their matching Little Brother/Big Brother baseball caps – Q-ster refused to pose and Buster kept wandering off – so I set up the self-timer to try to capture a shot of my hair. And what do you know? Q-ster runs into the room, stands alongside me and mugs shamelessly for the camera. I took exactly four photos, and here they are in order (only his side, since they came out much better than my side):




Thursday, August 06, 2009

Did Your Favorite Dancer Win?

(Spoiler in the post, if you haven’t seen the results and don’t want to know.)

Did you watch the finale of So You Think You Can Dance? The encore of the season’s best numbers was fun, although there was no need to repeat the little boys guest number, which was cute, but not as spectacular as a dance from say, Quest Crew, which has so many performers who originated their TV stardom from SYTYCD. It did make me think that maybe Q-ster and Buster are ready to join our dance troupe and start pulling their weight. (Just kidding! We’ll wait until at least until Buster can run without sticking his little round belly in front of him.)

I’m glad that there’s been little to no whining from the judges this season about “how America got it wrong” with the voting. When the contest is “America’s favorite dancer,” it’s impossible for America to get it wrong. That would be like someone asking you, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” and when you answer, “Mint chocolate chip,” having him reply, “That’s wrong!”

If the content is “America’s BEST dancer,” you can argue over the definition of best, and then also make a case for whether someone is the best or not. But that’s not how the show bills itself.

Anyhow, we liked Jeanine the best out of the remaining four dancers – combination of talent and personality – so the results were fine. Unlike last season, where I actually felt sorrowful that we wouldn’t be seeing these people every week anymore (or was it just post-preggo hormones?) and immediately bought tour tickets, I think we’ll skip the tour this year. I’m holding out for another America’s Best Dance Crew tour, hopefully after season 4, which starts on Sunday!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

E-I-E-I-Obiwan

I felt like such an accomplished mom last weekend, making plans to take the children to enriching activities that would broaden their horizons – a county 4H fair, an ethnic festival, and the Nordstrom Anniversary shoe sale.

The fair sounded terrific. Cows! Sheep! Rabbits! Free! With free parking!

I was pretty excited and dressed Buster while my parents and SwingDaddy worked on getting Q-ster prepared. He resisted. They countered with all the fun things he could do there. I handed the baby to SwingDaddy and went after Q-ster.

No one ever tells you how to extract your child from under a couch while he’s moaning, “I don’t WANNA eat a treat! I don’t WANNA ride a ride! I don’t WANNA have fun!”

By the time I convinced him that he probably did want those things, Buster was restless and unwilling to get in his car seat, but we eventually tucked everyone in the car and drove to the fair.

Wow! Says the child. Cows are big! And stinky!

When do children learn punctuation other than exclamation points? Certainly not before four years old, and after reading this post, I realize that perhaps it doesn’t occur until the late thirties.

Buster decided he wanted out of the stroller, and when I set him down to walk, he prompted bolted from the livestock area and made a beeline for the good stuff.

Smart kid.

There were a number of carnival rides, some of which were bearing questionable labels.

The boys also had a good time looking at the “collections” exhibits. Buster liked a toy pig arrangement.

Q-ster managed to find, out of acres of animals and objects, a Star Wars battle scene built of Legos. I don’t know in which competition category that fell, but I’m grateful to the child who entered it.

We can make any experience into a Star Wars saga.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Monster Bunny, Clever Crafter, and Other Nonsense

As my brain recovers from the last month of overload, here are a few more tidbits from BlogHer. Is it possible to run a disk de-fragmentation on one’s brain?

1) We met Nina, the host of Sprout’s Good Night Show! She was cleverly dressed in the same colors she wears on the show, for easy recognition. Nina was lovely and friendly, and I missed the opportunity to ask her whether they had actually changed her plush co-Star’s creepy voice, or if I’d just gotten used to it.

SwingDaddy said I should have asked whether she’d made any questionable videos that will get her fired like Melanie, the much adored original host.

2) My sister and I got to chat with Jenny, legendary crafter, party-thrower, and taste-maker of ljcfyi! I met her at BlogHer two years ago and was so happy that she remembered me (plus the little pink momo-chan that I’d given her). We’re hoping to get together with her the next time she’s doing a conference in California.




3) After a long day, we were heading back to our hotel room, but first we had to pass this:


A giant pink Energizer Bunny, so tall that his ears were pinned against the ceiling. As we turned sideways to squeeze by him, I whispered to Lady O, “Do you think there’s anyone inside or do they just wheel it around?”

She noticed that the drum beats (yes, the poor creature had to beat a drum the whole time it was standing there) were uneven, and decided that there was indeed a person inside.

We managed to get by unscathed, and thankfully, the Energizer suite was closed, bunny and drumming removed, before bedtime.

4) This tale has nothing to do with me, but click over to Suebob’s tale of true embarrassment at the Community Keynote.

At some point, I'll stop pretending I'm going to catch up with posts and move on, I promise.